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January 2010

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Ask Our Coaches:
Mate or Mother: Who am I?

"What does this type of behavior mean?
Should I be making some other plans...?"

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

I'm dating this guy, 48 years old, divorced 4 years. We've been dating for almost 5 months. We've had great dates, traveled together, met parents, and spent time with each other's friends. The chemistry is great! We're both on the path to commitment – yes, we want to get married – or at least that's the plan. There's only one problem. I have to plan everything we do.

I feel like "Julie, the Cruise Director" on that 70's show, The Love Boat. If there's anything we do together – dinner, movies, anything – it's always up to me to come up with the ideas, the plans, everything. The only thing I don't usually do is do the driving! At first, it seemed sweet when he would say, "Melissa, why don't you plan something – something you really want."

I do ask him to plan things, but his response is some rendition on, "But, Melissa, you do these things much better than me. Why don't you pick out the restaurant (or whatever), that you'd like. I know I'll love it." And on and on.

I'm not sure what I am – his mate or his mother? What should I do? Is this a red flag? What does this type of behavior mean? Should I be making some other plans … like for a future without him?  Do you think this is a problem or am I just not enjoying the freedom and openness that this relationship is affording me?  I'm confused – is this a good thing or a bad thing in a relationship?

Melissa from Madison Heights

Maeve responds ...

Although you have been dating this person for five months, already a pattern has emerged regarding his behavior. You say the chemistry is great, and many people confuse chemistry with love. This leaves people feeling somewhat deflated when the initial rush fades and they are left with the reality of what they truly feel for the other person.

It is often said that "love is blind." This refers to the initial period where chemistry is strong and you are unable to make good decisions and this could be an indicator of where this relationship is currently residing.

You mention that the plan is to get married, what does the marriage look like? What goals do you share for your life together? You say that you both want to get married. Have you asked yourself if you want to get married to each other? How do you know after only 5 months? Do you want to spend the rest of your life with this person exactly as they are? These are a few suggested questions that you might want to consider.

The lack of being able to plan could indicate that he is unable to make decisions, which could have implications for other matters further down the road. It might be worth suggesting that he plans something with you to see how he manages that and then ask him to plan a surprise activity for you so you have an excuse for not being involved at all. This will give you an idea of whether or not he is capable of planning an activity, or if he lacks the skills required to pull it all together.

You mention that the relationship offers you freedom and openness. If by this you mean the opportunity to be the one who makes all the choices and this suits you, then there is no problem. On the other hand, if you prefer to have someone who shares the decisions and is able to be a creative partner in making choices, then this is a problem.

Maeve Crawford | | 07813201003

Ann responds …

When getting to know someone in a dating or romantic relationship, it is imperative to understand your requirements, needs, and wants. If equal planning is on one of those lists, you know where it fits in overall importance to you in having a fulfilling relationship – and one that's built to last!

Requirements are the absolute, black and white, non-negotiables. Often referred to as "deal breakers," requirements are those things that, when not met, would cause you to walk away from someone. Since you're talking marriage, it is important you know what your requirements are. Often, talking with a relationship coach brings clarity to next steps and decision making.

It's important you're clear in your communication with him. If this really bothers you, you need to ask yourself what would satisfy you. Rather than simply asking him to help plan things, be sure you let him know why you would like him to do so – how it makes you feel and exactly what you would like him to do. And, be sure to ask him why he prefers you do all the planning. Try to reach common ground – something you're both comfortable with and can agree to. When you truly know your vision for a relationship, your requirements, needs and wants, you will have your answers.

Ann Robbins | | 954.561.4498

Lisa responds …

There's nothing wrong with your partner's style, but it may be wrong for you. It sounds as if you are through the early dating phase when sparks are flying and stomachs swirling. You may have arrived at the part of the process where you are moving beyond introductory chemistry and seeing clearly other traits that need testing.

It's common that curiosities you found endearing at first evolve into the same traits that make you want to run for the hills. If in 5 month's time you're starting to question, then take a hard look at where shared social planning falls as a priority for you. Do you require that your partner contribute? If you've been clear about your preference for reciprocity, and none is coming back, then will you gladly assume this role alone? If not, and if no help from your partner is likely, then this could be a proverbial dealbreaker.

Also, why is your partner so unmotivated? Did he ever plan something that you criticized? If so, then you may have a role in his behavior. Are you so good at planning that he feels his efforts would pale in comparison, so insecurity is at play? Or, is he just a laid back guy, a passenger rather than driver, who doesn't feel the need to pursue planning couple time? Whatever the case, you've described this as a problem. It sounds as if you need a solution that will bring you reciprocity, unless life as "Julie" really suits you.

Lisa Manyoky | | 609.890.6645

Candace responds …

This coach would say, "Don't panic." This is life and provides a perfect opportunity for you to practice requesting a change in his behavior. First, ask him when a good time to talk would be, and that you have something about yourself that you'd like to discuss with him.

Then, simply explain how much you would like him to participate in planning events – big or small – and ask if he would be willing to do that. He may share his reasons for not doing it in the past, and by sincere listening both ways, you both may learn something new about each other. In any case you've expressed how important it is to you, and you can gradually begin to work it out. Your letter reveals that you do have a strong foundation already in place, and this could be a chance to become even closer!

Candace Brindley | | 203.247.4613

Sheryl responds …

I am wondering whether your boyfriend has difficulty making decisions in general, or perhaps his job requires him to make so many decisions that he just wants a break in his personal life. There may be any number of reasons why he doesn't seem to want to take the lead in planning your dates, and he is the only one who knows the answer.

Communication is key in any relationship. Have you asked him why he keeps deferring the planning to you? Have you let him know that your preference is to share in it? How important is this issue for you? If he refuses to participate in planning, can you live with that or do you prefer a partner who will take the planning lead at times? There are no right or wrong answers in relationships; only what is right or wrong for you.

It sounds like you are in sync in other parts of your relationship. Talk about this and see if you can reach a compromise that works for both of you. Good luck.

Sheryl Spangler | | 704.281.1561    

Feature Article:
Dating Venues: Where Singles Meet Singles

This month, I interviewed Katherin Scott about dating venues -- places where singles meet singles. Understanding their importance, selecting those that are right for you, and taking action are important when searching for the love of your life.

Tara Kachaturoff

Tara Kachaturoff: What's a dating venue?

Katherin Scott: Simply defined, a dating venue is a place where singles can go to meet other singles.

Tara: What are the different kinds of dating venues?

Katherin: Realistically, any location has the potential to be a dating venue. The key is to get up off the couch and out of your house with the intention of meeting other singles. Singles can meet at public places such as coffee shops, fairs, or even the grocery store.

Generic singles settings also provide a place to meet. These might include online dating sites, speed dating events and singles dances.

Many singles meet at special interest settings such as professional networking associations, places of worship, sporting clubs, workshops and classes. Regardless of the setting, figure out what you're most interested in or passionate about and then spend time in those venues getting to know like-minded singles.

Tara: How can singles find the right venues for them?

Katherin: Singles can increase their chances of meeting potential partners when they frequent venues where like-minded people spend time. In these settings, you not only have one or more interests in common, you most likely share important values, a common life purpose, lifestyle and community. The odds are further increased when the venues (clubs, organizations, etc.) are also specifically intended for singles to gather.

Tara: Nowadays, there are more places than ever to meet people, both online and off, yet many singles still hold onto the perception that they can't find places to meet other singles. Why do you think they have this perception?

Katherin: Unfortunately, this "scarcity perception" only creates more scarcity in a person's mind and in their life. I think this mindset is created over time when someone hasn't felt successful dating or meeting people. Interestingly, for every place someone believes they can't meet anyone to date, I know I can find multiple couples who will tell me they met at that exact place!

My suggestion is to be more open-minded to the possibilities of meeting someone special and to realize the only constant at every venue is YOU! It's the Law of Attraction in action. If you think you can meet someone, you will, and if you think you can't, you won't. Create the mindset: "It's a candy store out there!" with lots and lots of wonderful singles just looking to meet you!

Tara: In your opinion, where do you think the best places are for singles to connect with one another?

Katherin: Venues, events, clubs and organizations that share your beliefs, values and interests AND are for singles are potentially the best places to meet a good match. For example, if you like to hike and spend time outdoors, join an outdoor hiking club and get involved with their singles group.

If you like to sail, join a singles sailing club. For church-goers, join your church's singles group. Here's the key: if your favorite organization doesn't have an established singles group, take the initiative to create one! Don't just stand by passively and whine about it. Be proactive. The best part of being the creator of a group is that you will get to meet everyone who joins.

If you do join a pre-existing club for singles, get involved. Become part of the membership or welcome committee. You'll have the opportunity to meet everyone and, since it's your responsibility to meet and greet, you will feel more confident in approaching people you haven't yet met.

Tara: Are there any places singles should avoid?

Katherin: I don't recommend singles look for love in bars or noisy clubs. The chances are statistically low for a successful long-term relationship to come about after meeting someone in a bar.

Gender-specific venues may not be optimum for meeting someone of the opposite sex to date. For example, if you're a woman who loves to quilt, don't expect to meet your life partner at the quilting club, unless the love of your life is another woman. However, if you're a man who likes to quilt, definitely join a quilting club as the odds are very high that you will be the only man in the group.

And, I recommend singles avoid places where others don't share key interests and values. If you hate to travel, a travel club is not a good venue to frequent. If you don't like the outdoors, don't join a hiking club even if it's specifically for singles.

Tara: If one of your clients asked you, "Where can I find other singles to meet?" what would you say?

Katherin: My response is to first ask if they've taken the time to define their "must-have's" for a successful relationship. If they've done the work to understand their specific relationship requirements, I encourage them to frequent places where like-minded people go, especially like-minded singles.

I also encourage singles to get involved with online dating. Online dating is a very successful venue for meeting quality singles, especially when they've taken the time to define their relationship requirements. If a person hasn't had success with online dating, I encourage them to hire a coach to help them with their profile. Just like a resume, it's important to know how to write your profile so it attracts the type of person you're looking to meet.

Tara: What are some of the most interesting or unique places where someone met the love of their life?

Katherin: My father once said "Love is geographical. Wherever you go, you can find love." I agree. When you're ready and available for love, you can find the love of your life in the most interesting place.

I've heard of singles meeting at funerals, car accidents and even during a lightning storm. One woman I know took a cruise that she believed was specifically for singles, but was actually for seniors! Because she had such a great attitude about the situation, one of the elderly couples introduced her to their grandson after the cruise and, yes, they are now married! Keep an open mind and a positive attitude and who knows how love will find its way to you!

Responses Copyright ©2010 by Kartherin Scott. All rights reserved in all media.

Katherin Scott, MA, is a dating coach, speaker and author of "ABC's of Dating: Simple Strategies for Dating Success." As an internationally recognized authority on dating and attracting love, Katherin coaches singles worldwide and regularly conducts seminars and workshops to help people empower themselves to find love and happiness. | 425-681-2620

Bonus Article:
Divorce Recovery & Forgiveness: Busting the Myth of Forgiveness

By Dr. Jerald Young

We've all heard it before. "Forgive and forget." "Turn the other cheek." "Forgive them for they know not what they do." "To err is human, to forgive divine."

This is all well-intentioned advice, I'm sure. However, while it might look good on paper, or sound good in a sermon, forgiveness is not that simple for mortal human beings. Nike's slogan, "Just Do It," may work on the playing field, but it does not work in the field of human relationships, especially when dealing with divorce.

The Fundamental Difficulty in Forgiving Your Ex

I don't know about you, but when I got divorced, these socially appropriate prescriptions for what I "should" do could not have been further from my mind. I felt angry, resentful, abandoned, apprehensive, disconsolate, frightened, furious, hurt, and overwhelmed, among others. Well-meaning advice telling me simply to forget it, forgive her, and move on was silly. However, that was all I heard!

Divorce, including recovery from divorce, is a life transition. It takes time. Likewise, letting go of our attachments to how things used to be takes time. This includes our attachments, both positive and negative, to our ex. Letting go of the emotional ties to another is not an act of logic, and can't be accomplished by making a rational decision.

A More Helpful, and Humane, Approach to Forgiveness

Then I discovered a book by two educators and psychologists, Sydney and Suzanne Simon, entitled "How to Make Peace with Your Past and Get on with Your Life." This book puts a human touch to forgiveness. It removed my guilt about not being able to make the simple decision to "forgive" my ex. For the first time I had a way to think about forgiveness that was truly useful. Their book laid out what forgiveness is, and what it is not, and in the process, pointed out the way to let go of the past so we can get on with our lives.

What Forgiveness Is NOT

Simon and Simon point out that what all major religious traditions tell us about forgiveness is not scientifically true. That is, forgiveness is NOT (1) a Clear-Cut, One-Time Decision that is usually communicated by some form of (2) Public Pronouncement, preferably to the ex, in which we acknowledge a degree of (3) Self Sacrifice by promising to (4) Forget what was done to us, and offer (5) Absolution to the perpetrator, while in the process giving the impression that we actually (6) Condone what they did.

What Forgiveness IS

On the other hand, they tell us that Forgiveness IS (1) the By-Product of an 2) Ongoing, Internal, Healing Process in which, over time, we Let Go of the intense Emotions attached to incidents from our past with our ex.

Some outcomes of this "letting go" include the recognition that we no longer need our grudges, resentments, hatred, and self pity. In addition, we no longer want to punish our ex who hurt us because we realize that nothing we do to punish our ex will heal us. That is, it is an "inside job."

What This Means for You and Me

Some consequences of treating forgiveness as the by-product of an ongoing healing process include: (1) Don't expect forgiveness to come all at once. The negative feelings will linger until they are "dissolved away." (2) We must take personal responsibility to engage in the healing process. Time alone will not do it. Making a public, or private, declaration will not do it. (3) Well-meaning people will tell you to do stuff concerning forgiveness, and how you feel about your ex, that is just wrong. We must courteously ignore them while we go about healing ourselves.

The good news is, if we "do the work" required to heal from the pain of the divorce transition, one day we will wake up and realize it has been days or weeks since we had any strong feelings about our ex. This means forgiveness is complete.

Copyright ©2010 by Jerald Young, Ph.D.. All Rights Reserved for all media.

Jerald Young, Ph.D., is a divorce recovery and relationship coach dedicated to helping his clients avoid the demoralizing "second divorce" (or third). He helps clients release their last relationship and prepare for a new one that will last. He's the author of the forthcoming book, "The Book on Divorce Recovery." 917.865.2710   

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